Judaism and Buddhism come from the Devil. (Terry Jones)
A very interesting situation is developing. Florida pastor Terry Jones, with a whopping congregation of 50, plans to burn the Quran on September 11. Protests are growing all over Afghanistan and the rest of the Muslim world. And tonight, something extremely unusual happened. Gen. Petraeus in a incredibly rare move, spoke out publicly on a matter of politics, and asked Jones not to conduct his scheduled burning, claiming it would significantly hamper mission efforts and troop security.
My views are without complexity. Fighting over religion is nonsense. Soldiers' lives matter. Don't burn the Quran.
KABUL—The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said the planned burning of Qurans on Sept. 11 by a small Florida church could put the lives of American troops in danger and damage the war effort.
Gen. David Petraeus said the Taliban would exploit the demonstration for propaganda purposes, drumming up anger toward the U.S. and making it harder for allied troops to carry out their mission of protecting Afghan civilians.
"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Gen. Petraeus said in an interview. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."
Hundreds of Afghans attended a demonstration in Kabul on Monday to protest the plans of Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has said he will burn copies of Islam's holy book to mark the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Afghan protesters chanted "death to America," and speakers called on the U.S. to withdraw its troops. Some protesters threw rocks at a passing military convoy.
Military officials fear the protests will likely spread to other Afghan cities, especially if the event is broadcast or ends up on Internet video.
Mr. Jones, head of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., said in a statement that "We understand the General's concerns. We are sure that his concerns are legitimate." Nonetheless, he added, "We must send a clear message to the radical element of Islam. We will no longer be controlled and dominated by their fears and threats."
Mr. Jones has been denied a permit for the demonstration, but has said he plans to go forward with the protest.
Rev. Stephanie Sapp, spokeswoman for the center, said no one from the Pentagon or other federal agencies had expressed concern or asked that the event be canceled. She did say that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had discussed security measures.
Pentagon officials said they were not aware that any Defense officials have reached out directly to Mr. Jones. But military officers said they hoped that Gen. Petraeus's statement—an unusual move since military commanders rarely get involved in politics—would convince Mr. Jones to change his plans.
Gen. Petraeus declined to elaborate on the nature of the threats or violence that could occur, but westerners in Afghanistan have been warned away from restaurants and other public places amid the rising tensions.
Other senior military leaders echoed Gen. Petraeus commentsMonday. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who oversees the effort to train Afghan security forces said he was informed of the planned Florida protests several days ago by a senior minister in the Afghan government.
Video: Demonstrations in Kabul
Honest question -- Do Muslims burn the bible in protest? I've seen flag-burning, but not the bible. Though I'm not religious, I'm always looking for the hypocrisy angle. And if Muslims routinely burn the bible in protests, that would make their complaints about Koran burning borderline irrelevant.